What is TMS Therapy?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy is a non-invasive treatment for depression and other mood disorders using an MRI-strength magnetic pulse to stimulate neurons in the brain.

Who can receive TMS Therapy?

TMS Therapy is FDA-cleared for patients with major depressive disorder who have not received satisfactory results from prior antidepressant medications. We have treated many patients suffering from mood disorders other than depression and have had success. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with depression and/or has not achieved satisfactory improvement from medications, then TMS Therapy may be able to help.

Who should NOT receive TMS Therapy?

TMS Therapy is a safe and well-tolerated treatment with very few limitations. However, not all patients are appropriate candidates. To find out if TMS Therapy is right for you, contact our office to set up an initial consultation with Dr. Richard J. Pitch. Dr. Pitch will carefully screen patients’ medical histories to determine if TMS Therapy is a treatment option.

How long is a typical TMS Therapy course?

Because each person’s treatment needs are different and treatment is individualized, the length of a TMS Therapy course can vary. A usual course of treatment for depression involves sessions five days a week for 4 to 6 weeks, although this can differ on a person’s response. You will receive a personalized treatment plan prior to starting TMS Therapy, and your progress will be monitored throughout the entire course of treatment.

What should I expect during a TMS Therapy treatment?

Because TMS Therapy is delivered with no sedation or anesthesia, patients can immediately resume normal activities after each session including driving, returning to work or school, or other routines.

How long does each session last?

TMS Therapy treatments are performed five days a week, and each treatment lasts between 20-45 minutes. Because each treatment plan is individualized, treatment times can vary based on what protocol is prescribed and the patient’s unique situation. At the beginning, each appointment is scheduled for 1 hour, so there is adequate time to treat comfortably. This may change over the treatment course if less time is needed.

How long does it take to feel results?

TMS Therapy is recommended for 4 to 6 weeks based on how quickly a patient’s mood improves and remains stable. Not uncommonly, patients begin to experience results within the first two weeks.

What are the side effects?

The most common side effect associated with TMS Therapy is pain or discomfort during treatment at or near the treatment area. This pain or discomfort is generally mild to moderate and typically diminishes after the first week of treatment.

In clinical trials, less than 5% of patients discontinued NeuroStar treatment due to side effects. NeuroStar treatment also showed no negative effects on thinking or memory.

Because NeuroStar TMS Therapy® acts directly on the prefrontal cortex, it lacks the systemic side effects experienced with antidepressant medication.

There is a rare risk of seizure associated with TMS Therapy. The risk of seizure in general clinical use is 1 in 30,000 treatments.

Is TMS Therapy covered by insurance?

Neuronetics, the company that developed Neurostar Therapy, recognizes the importance of patient access to NeuroStar TMS Therapy®. TMS Therapy is widely covered at this time; however some insurance companies have issued coverage policies, and many are covering the treatments, by exception, on a case-by-case basis. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of the initial consultation with a NeuroStar TMS Therapy doctor to see if this treatment is right for you.

We encourage you to consult with your insurance company regarding their willingness to cover NeuroStar TMS Therapy for you. To help with this process, we have a team devoted to providing general support regarding the reimbursement process.

Is TMS Therapy like ECT (electroconvulsive therapy)?

No, the two procedures are very different. While both are effective in the treatment of depression, there are many differences in safety and tolerability. During the TMS Therapy procedure, patients sit in a chair and are awake and alert throughout the entire 37-minute procedure – no sedation is used with TMS Therapy. Patients can transport themselves to and from treatment. In over 10,000 active treatments with TMS Therapy in clinical trials, no seizures were observed. TMS Therapy was also shown to have no negative effects on memory function in these studies.

In contrast, “shock therapy,” or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), intentionally causes a seizure. Patients receiving ECT must be sedated with general anesthesia and paralyzed with muscle relaxants. Recovery from an ECT treatment session occurs slowly, and patients are usually closely monitored for minutes or a few hours after treatment.

Short-term confusion and memory loss are common, and long-term disruptions in memory have been shown to occur and may persist indefinitely in some people. Because of the side effects associated with ECT, a significant amount of caregiver support is required.

What is the difference between TMS Therapy and Antidepressant medications?

Antidepressant medications have numerous side effects such as weight gain, sexual side effects, gastrointestinal distress, insomnia, fatigue, and others. Unlike medications, TMS Therapy is non-systemic and does not enter the bloodstream, meaning there are little to no side effects.